Wednesday, February 17, 2010

John Hawks on Paleo in NY

I was looking for this report by scrolling back through John Hawks' weblog (it wasn't there, it was in Thinking Meat).

It had come to mind because I had made a bolognaise sauce for tonight's supper and had seared the mince and onions, quite deliberately, because I like the taste of seared meat. I guess like sweetness because it was rare before sucrose became widely available. But burned meat? AGEs and ALEs? Why? And is it bad for me? With quite well defined hearth use at 750,000 years ago I think I'm OK to eat seared meat. I'm not sure why I like it. It's not quite the same as feeding gamma irradiated "food" to cats (their brains fall to pieces) and I suspect it's something humans have been doing for a long time. A lot longer than the 10,000 years of growing grains, which Hawks rightly suggests some of us may be better adapted to than others, even on this brief time scale.

So AGEs and ALEs, yes. Unless, of course, those out-of-Africa-a long-time-ago people had stainless steel cooking pots for boiling meat in, which we've just not found yet...

Scrolling back through Arrested Adaptation, in a vain effort to find what wasn't there, I stumbled on his take about the Paleo in NY article which was discussed in "our" zone of the bloggosphere when it came out. I enjoyed it a lot. Though he has some gripes and beefs about "modern paleo" (with a particular BIG down on Crossfit), his article was generally enjoyable and informed. Being one of those weirdo's with strange dietary habits, even if not paleo, it's a good to get a bit of fun poked at me occasionally, provided it's not malicious...

You do tend to forget how strange you are.

Well, I do anyway.

Peter

35 comments:

zach said...

Peter, any thoughts on this from Dr William Davis. It's the first time I've encountered this.

http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/saturated-fat-and-large-ldl.html

SnowDog said...

You 'seared the mice' because you 'like the taste of seared meat'?

Well, to each his own, I suppose. :)

Peter said...

Hi SnowDog, good for a giggle, corrected now. Must be the cats in the house taking over and dictating the menu...

Peter

Peter said...

Hi Zach,

No, I've not seen this but Dr D is very experienced at looking at lipid profiles. He also thinks they cause disease.

If you don't think they cause disease per se and if they are not present as a marker of sugar intake I can't see the need to worry. Before Keys no one worried about saturated fat. Why the change after one crook who cooked the books?

The caveat being that Dr D has seen lots of patients over the years and should know what works. But I'm loathe to blame genetics for heart disease and TYP is undoubtedly a work in progress...

Peter

"Guppy" Honaker said...

Hey Petro,

I'm with you - sear the meat! (As well as highly educated, you also sound like a great chef!)

- David

Aloe Vera 101
Holistic Health Info.

Jake said...

Looking at the picture of John Hawks, it is evident that his genes have not adapted to agriculture.

He should give paleo a try.

caphuff said...

Hey! (off topic) that Thinking Meat site (http://thinkingmeat.com/newsblog/?p=2698) discusses someone else who thinks civilization was founded on beer (a theory I'm quite fond of):

"Patrick McGovern, an archaeologist who studies human exploration of fermented beverages, believes that it might have been the desire for reliable access to alcohol, not food, that spurred the farming revolution that swept Neolithic culture, largely banishing hunter-gatherer ways from many parts of the world."

Melissa said...

Haha, yeah, that article had its issues. I'm a long time reader of both this and John Hawk's blog. I was a little miffed he was so dismissive, but the article did sort of portray us as being weirdo lunatics. I just moved to the city out of ag school and I laughed when I saw John's "meat locker," which is actually a small freezer. We had two much bigger ones in my house at ag school.

Melissa
http://huntgatherlove.com

Emily said...

from reading the heart scan blog, my understanding is that dr. davis DOES think lipid profiles are influenced by sugar. he advocates a low carb approach.

gunther gatherer said...

Hi Peter,

What do you think about extending Hormesis Theory a bit further to make AGEs and ALEs even a necessary part of our daily "stress" (almost like exercise) which stimulates mitohormesis, thereby strengthening cell resistance/response and, by extension, the life of the organism?

750k years is not only enough time to get used to AGEs, but also even to incorporate them into a necessary feedback mechanism. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Peter said...

You have a point Jake. I like his common sense and deep genetic background compared to superficial amateurs like me. He didn't seem too down on Cordain (unlike myself) but not so "un-down" as to take notice...

Cap, yes. Convert the wheat/beef people to wheat/beer-with-a-steak-on-the-side-people and maybe that's why they blitzkrieged Europe... I notice that blitzkrieg refers to alcohol, didn't actually know that!

Hi Melissa, not too worried then! I though JH was pretty down on reporters, and TV producers too, in other posts. I like the guy. (Pax Melchior!)

Hi Emily, yes, of course. But I gather that "genetic" sdLDL are an issue if you have them despite LC/high sat fat. Personally I would ask what else you are doing wrong. To much fruit, vegetables, nuts, fibre? I've watched Dr D come from near vegetarian/soy consumption through LC eating just because it's the best for weight loss (hands down) and now through to LC for health. The next step is sat fat for health, but he is an absolute believer in the toxicity of lipids, that's a problem. But I lack his observations of effect on CAC score and he is constrained by current lipidology. But he'll get there one day. Or maybe I will be converted....!

Gunther, well that would be why I like roast lamb! I'm not thinking about feedback loops as such. It's more a question of where the oxidised lipids end up (on Lp(a)????) and what the Lp(a) is going to do with them once it has accumulated enough. If were are on zero sucrose/grains we might need a supply of oxPL from our diet for our Lp(a)!

And the flip side, we're having to eat flavanoid rich forage because we're not hunting well, the oxPLs can come from plant damage (As in http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12064344) to supply our Lp(a) with its oxPLs... For whatever we need to do with them.

In fact if antioxidants quench useful free radicals you are in a reasonable position to argue that 7-keto cholesterol does the opposite, but targeted.

I think I'm getting silly here, but there is logic to it!

Peter

Neonomide said...

A short tidbit, in Lund UNiversity study BUTTER trumped olive oil, rape oil and linseed oil and especially in women butter produced a significantly lower increase in blood fats after a meal.

Fascinating, how would you comment on this ?

http://www.lu.se/o.o.i.s?id=15111&news_item=4467

John Hawks said...

Looking at the picture of John Hawks, it is evident that his genes have not adapted to agriculture.

I think my main problem is the New World plants, corn, potatoes, and chocolate. Take those out and I lose weight pretty quickly.

Kurt G. Harris MD said...

@John Hawks

I am just up the road from you in Sturgeon Bay - I've been reading your blog since Randy Dickson pointed me to it and enjoying it.

I want you to know some of us "paleos" are clean shaven and try to be appropriately skeptical of our own methodology (and mythos)

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/11/27/health-and-evolutionary-reasoning-the-panu-method.html

I agreed with most of your essay on the NYT piece. There indeed isn't a hunter in wisconsin without a chest freezer! These mainstream articles always focus on the clown like or cult like aspects of anything ( boodletting and raw meat, etc)

My approach is medicine-based with the filter of evolutionary reasoning applied afterwards.

Cheers

Peter said...

Hi John,

Welcome and yes, that makes sense. I would just comment (yet again, groan) that people like me with BMI around 20 are not at anything like ideal size for minimising all cause mortality... People do get hung up on weight.

Hi Neonomide,

Just read the language and the assumptions being made about diet and health all the way through the article! And cholesterol hardening arteries, omg. This girl will go far in obtaining funding unless she gets more in the way of (unwelcome) support for butter. Funny the stuff people find by accident! And of course there is the ingrained idea that apoB48 is manufactured by your gut to kill you with heart disease, the lower the better, no level too low.....

Peter

Ned Kock said...

John Hawks makes a very good point regarding evolution maximizing reproductive success, not longevity. Even costly traits evolve, which is a challenge for strictly paleo orientation:

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/01/evolution-of-costly-traits-challenge-to.html

My guess is that John was referring to De Vany as the “guru”. Correct?

Also, I was wondering if John (if he is reading this) could comment on the work of a fellow anthropologist with evolutionary biology interests, Joseph Henrich:

http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/

I am having to review some of Joseph’s work for a paper that I am co-authoring with an evolutionary biologist. It seems solid to me, but I am having a hard time following the math. My colleague is more critical, and he certainly knows more than I do about evolution.

caphuff said...

re longevity: would it not be a "selected" trait to the extent parental longevity may contribute to survival and reproductive success of offspring?

Elizabeth said...

Hello Peter, can I ask what actually happens when I have glass of red wine or a small whiskey. Does it make an instant impact on fat deposition...seems to. Is there something special about it as is ethanol or is it just the insulin spike as usual... but the carbs are so low in a glass on red that they surely can,t be the impact. But, if one is to eat with wine what do you suggest, low fat protein, or high fat? this is of course with no other carbs.

Also, what does actually happen with the protein, does the first 40g get used for growth and repair?

Thankyou

Thanks....

Ken said...

re longevity: would it not be a "selected" trait to the extent parental longevity may contribute to survival and reproductive success of offspring?

Yes, especially where a woman requires a dedicated hunter to support her child, as at high latitude where there is little opportunity for women to support themselves by gathering.

The superior quality of health that a person already has being reflected in their subsequent fertility; prenatal testosteronization (low digit ratio) is related to reduced risk of heart attack and number of children fathered.

Moreover having fathered 4 or more children by age 30 increases a man's chances of living to age 100 by 100-200% Here

I am not sure about what diet would give a man the best chance of doing this but being brought up on a farm also greatly increased the chance of living to 100.

Insulin, estrogen and cortisol is high in the mating season for animals. Paleo would be a winter ie scarcity diet I think. On the other hand there is glycogen in steak which is said to put insulin up more than sugar.

I was surprised to read John Hawks is 6'2'' considering how broad he looks. His average level of adiposity would make a better test of the paleo way than the gurus, most of whom look to me like they have always had a wiry build. (or in Devany's case an exceptional physique).

mary said...

Peter, do you mind if i call you mr. fat? when i talk to my daughter about the blogs i read, panu guy i call the milkman (he is so easy-going, i'm sure he wouldn't mind). anyhoo- you might not have time for this, but then again you might find it interesting. i have been eating an almost 100% seafood diet this week with just 3 omega 3 eggs cooked in olive oil for breakfast. i'm also eating a little papaya, blueberry, celery, avocado, or almonds on the side (actually a lot of almonds). so i also cut out my 3 cups of coffee w/coconut milk to zero. 3 days into this i started to feel achy, with the pain radiating from the base of my spine. last night it was so bad i woke up early. i was tempted to take an aspirin, but instead had a cup of coffee and the pain went away almost completely except for residual pain still at the base of the spine.

a couple of weird things. i didn't get a coffee withdrawal headache. also the pain i had was very similar to the pain i had when i was taking the weight loss drug alli during my period. alli blocks the absorption of fat in the intestine, i think. so as soon as i thought of fat- i thought of mr. fat.

Peter said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I think any alcohol which does not get to your brain will be converted to palmitic acid in your liver, plus a few ketones. My own personal preference with alcohol is cheddar cheese, mmmm.... But ideally? Who knows. And exactly what happens to that first 40g of protein or what follows might be more complex than simple repair, but that seems a good enough explanation...

Hi Mary,

I remember Stephan is known as Fat Boy, so I cannot object to Mr Fat. It maintains a nice age differential!

I've read that caffeine is an analgesic in its own right but never chased this. It also causes some degree of insulin resistance which might raise your blood lipid levels if they are a little low... Hard to say. Why on earth did you go for such an odd set of food choices? The occasional piece of salmon is great but it's not exactly gourmet like economy beef mince!

Hi Ken, I don't rate my chances too highly then, only three offspring by 53! Though I was skinny as a kid...

Peter

JohnN said...

I don't need to defend John Hawks - he's more than capable of handling it himself. I did note, however, that it is not the diet style but the pseudo-authorities/experts and the half-baked theories behind it were being made fun of. And that would be fine by me.

BTW, the same quoted guru - who shall remains nameless - avoids saturated fat and claims that his diet is patterned after HG living 200K years ago - such a ridiculous thing to say. IMO, the said guru's main contribution to the debate is the Power Law rule brought over from his study in economics which is rather useful when one starts to get too obsessed about physical exercise or your own diet.

Kurt G. Harris MD said...

@johnn

Is devaney really a lipophobe?

I'm sure he is the one Hawks is referring to, but I've never read him.

@mary

I prefer mr butter if fatboy and mr. fat are taken. No one could possibly argue that peter does not deserve to claim the mr. fat moniker. I don't drink milk but butter and cream are the bomb.

mary said...

@ dr.harris- if you can call me a harpy on your blog, i can call you milkman everywhere else. but since i like to be accurate, and you don't drink milk, i deem you dr. 'butterball'.

mary said...

This is what Professor De Vany had to say about fat. He sure does sound half-baked, huh (where's the 'oh- brother emoticon?):

"I am still a bit cautious on my fat intake. We have obese animals now whereas our ancestors consumed lean animals. The animals eat grains now, a major source of toxins (aflatoxin) secreted from fungii that are highly carcinogenic.

As to the combo of fat and carbs: 1. it would have been rare in an ancestor's meal (probably never), so it presents problems for metabolism (the carbs and fats compete for metabolism and fat loses), 2. high glycemic carbs increase oxidation of fats, so together they are damaging to blood vessels and (particularly) insulin receptors, 3. it is very difficult to untangle causality regarding carbs and fats and CVD/CHD, as the study shows."

mary said...

Professor De Vany was referring to this study:

"A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat. Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725. "

Ken said...

Mary,

Some ancestors were surely not hunters, 20% of the ancestors of modern Europeans are thought to have been agriculturists from outside Europe

There is a lot of debate about whether the original hunting Europeans have any living descendants; recent genetic studies have failed to turn up modern Europeans with tha same dna as has been extracted from paleolithic remains.

So it is probably true that even the type of saturated fat found in wild animals might not be the kind of food that modern European humans are solely adapted to. Agriculture has had a lot of time to act on their DNA and select for the ability to thrive on a carb (or maybe mixed) diet, 20% of them had a head start.

mary said...

to know if you as an individual would thrive on grain, as, in your opinion, an agriculturists evolved to do, eliminate it from your diet and see what happens. richard of free the animal did (as well as eliminating some other things), and his health greatly improved. so i guess his dna is closer to the hunters. mine must be too, since i've lost 20 pounds cutting out high glycemic carbs and all grains. but if you do fine on grain, i'm certainly not going to tell you to stop.

blogblog said...

HGs rarely sear their meat. They usually cook it slowly at low temperatures. The meat is either cooked in the skin or wrapped in leaves, mud or bark etc - so the meat is steamed not barbecued.

Peter said...

Blogblog,

Damn. I'll have to think of another reason to justify my preferences...

Peter

notrace said...

The exchange on Dr Davis' blog regarding saturated fat has me wanting for some basic biology that I can't seem to find easily. Your comment on regarding the overweight subject implies that body fat is saturated fat. Is this always the case? Does it matter whether the stored fat is the result of excess carbohydrate consumption versus excess vegetable oil consumption? Appreciate your comments and your blog.

Brian

caphuff said...

I second the questions of Brian (notrace). Have followed the Heart Scan Blog exchanges with interest.

Peter said...

Human fat is a mix of saturated, mono unsats (ratio determined largely by insulin levels) and a few PUFA/MCT from the diet. Probably similar to lard if you have been eating carbs with omega 6 PUFA. There are papers on PubMed with the ratios. I've been thinking about actually working out the ratios likely to be involved under Dr Davis' scenario, but I certainly don't want to keep treading all over his comments. Interestingly his genetic-sdLDL people have a tendency to diabetes. They probably actually need a "Dr Bernstein with a will of iron" approach, ie 84mg/dl (or was it 86?) of glucose in the blood at all times. What? You let it get above 90mg/dl??????.

Also remember that lipolysis has neither apoB48 nor apoB100 involved and this alters what you think might be going on if you consider the apoB proteins were evolved to kill you. Personally I love the apoBs, especially the apoB48s and am not so keen on those elevated blood glucose values...

Peter

notrace said...

Thanks Peter.

Is it too simplistic to say that excess dietary fats are transported directly to adipose tissue whereas excess carbs will get made into fat by the the liver? What kinds of fat is the liver capable of making?

Thanks again.

Peter said...

Well in general glucose is stored as glycogen unless it composes almost all of your non protein diet. Fructose is always converted to fat unless oxidised immediately. Humans seem to do palmitic acid as the primary fat and desaturate it to palmitoleic under the influence of insulin. Ruminants favour stearic/oleic but obviously do palmitate/palmitoleate too. MCT production tends to be reserved for milk.

Peter